September 30, 2010

Dhoni unperturbed with crowded schedule


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The Indian skipper, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, finds no problem in playing continuous cricket and he sees no reason to complain about the overdose of international matches.

"If we complain now - three days after the home series against New Zealand we will be in South Africa - we will be complaining the whole year then. We all knew exactly what the schedule was and how exactly we are positioned," he said on the eve of the first Test against Australia starting in Mohali on October 1.

"I don't believe much in strategizing before the match. A lot depends on the conditions available at a given time. A successful batsman will adapt himself to each and every condition, so the basic plan remains the same. Most of our players have played against Australia, both home and away. Whatever time we got was enough to get our plans in place," the Indian captain said.

"Some of the players were together before some of the boys came after the Champions League. Equal importance was given to cricketing skills and fielding aspects. I think we have made best use of the time we got ahead of the series and hopefully it will reflect on the field,” Dhoni felt.

Obviously Dhoni can’t be expected to speak against the policies of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) but the fact remains that it’s indeed a bit risky to be getting together just two days before a Test series.

The Champions League T20 in South Africa ended just a few days before the start of the home series against Australia and the fitness of the players could be tested severely in the days to come.

Murali Vijay had just one day of training while Dhoni and Suresh Raina got only a couple of days for warming up for the first Test. Their spirits must be sky high after powering Chennai Super Kings to title win but what about the state of their bodies. Are they made of steel or have shock-absorbers inscribed to take the pressures of long air travels.

Rahul Dravid, playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore, also had very little time to acclimatize. Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan could have faced similar dilemma had Mumbai Indians moved farther in the Champions League.

While Dhoni played down the issue of acclimatizing the Australians looked at it entirely differently and they were concerned about the late arrival of Doug Bollinger and Michael Hussey, both of whom also played in the Champions League, as the rest of the squad had descended in Chandigarh more than a week earlier.

No surprises that India and Australia think of such matters so differently. Little wonder then about the results. The Australians often win the opening match of a series while the Indians are more often watched using the first Test as net practice for the next game.

"Generally we are very good starters as well. Our record starting Test-match series is very good. That's one area we can focus on a little bit more, making sure that we start the game well knowing in the back of our minds that India generally are slow starters. I'm sure they're aware of that as well. I'm sure that's something they've spoken long and hard about over the last few years," Australian captain Ricky Ponting emphasized.

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Zaheer considers Younis best option for national captaincy


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Former Pakistan captain, Zaheer Abbas, also known as the Asian Bradman, feels that Younis Khan is the best choice to lead Pakistan. The legendary stroke-maker who enthralled the full houses with his enchanting drives and cuts firmly believes that Younis has the potential to deliver.

"With the future of Salman Butt as captain and player now uncertain because of the spot-fixing scandal, the best choice to lead Pakistan is Younis Khan. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) should not waste any more time in appointing Younis as the Test team captain because he is the ideal man to lead the team after the controversial tour to England," Zaheer observed in a recent interview.

"Whatever problem there is between Younis and the board it needs to be sorted out quickly, Younis must meet with the board Chairman and also make himself available for Pakistan again. The forthcoming series against South Africa in UAE is going to be a tough task and the board must have the best man leading the Test team," he advised.

"Pakistan will require his experience in the World Cup. The tournament is not far away and I don't think we now have time or room for experimenting with new players," Zaheer reckoned.

He was of the opinion that the PCB should reappoint Younis as captain without further delay to lead the turnaround.

Well not many people would agree with the observations of Zaheer because Younis had remained a reluctant leader even at the best of his times and it could be a bigger risk handing over the captaincy to him once more.

Pakistan’s cricket team has been in the limelight for the wrong reasons for quite some time now and the spot-fixing controversy near the end of the recent Test series against England created more problems for them.

With the International Cricket Council (ICC) having provisionally banned the trio of Salman Butt, Mohammad Aamir and Mohammad Asif, the post of a Test captain has become vacant once more.

Salman had been drafted as the Test captain during the English summer when Shahid Afridi announced his sudden retirement after a heavy defeat at the hands of Australia in the first Test.

Many people had felt that Shahid was not the right choice to be asked to lead the country in every format of the game because he hardly fitted in Pakistan’s Test playing eleven and it needed just one game to expose his shortcomings.

Now there are rumours that Ijaz Butt and his cronies are in the process of negotiating another ‘deal’ with the enigmatic all-rounder and he might be made the Test captain again for the series against South Africa.

Ijaz Butt and his trusted lieutenant, Yawar Saeed, seem to be having a personal grudge against Younis in any case and they were not going to reappoint him until, of course, someone from the office of the President or the Prime Minister intervenes.

The temperamental Younis has had an exceptionally record as a batsman but he didn’t impress with his leadership skills. In fact his batting had deteriorated during his own tenure as captain.

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Warne foresees close Ashes battle in Australia


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The Ashes 2010-11 is still more than seven weeks away but it’s the topic of discussion at many forums and the experts are not shy of expressing themselves as the much talked about battle draws nearer.

Shane Warne, having played the key role in deciding the fate of quite a few Ashes series in favour of Australia, reckons that Australia would be more vulnerable on home soil than they have been in a generation. He, however, still predicted a 2-1 winning scoreline for the hosts.

"Given that there's not much between the two teams, you think the next thing to weigh up are the Australian conditions. Australia have only lost a couple of series in 20 years in Australia,” he pointed out.

"With Australia in transition, they are not playing as well as they can, while England are playing pretty well and with a settled squad, so I think that mix makes for a good series. England were embarrassed last time in Australia - they lost 5-0, so they want to try and put that right, but it's a tough ask. They need Graeme Swann to take 30 wickets in the series, and if he does that, they can probably win," Warne added.

If the greatest spin bowler of all time reckons that Swann has a chance of picking 30 wickets in five Tests then it certainly means something. The Australians would obviously be not taking the off-spinner lightly who has improved in leaps and bounds over the last couple of years.

Warne has also pinned great hopes on his former Hampshire teammate, Chris Tremlett, who has had temperamental problems in the past.

"I captained him for a while at Hampshire but I think the thing with Tremlett is his body language. He needs to improve that because at times he can appear a bit soft. But he's got all the ability in the world, and he could easily be the No. 1 bowler in the world if it all clicks. If he could bring his net form out into the middle, and continue working on his body language, he could really be a strength for England," the champion leg-spinner thought.

Warne was convinced that Australia were already looking beyond the two-Test series against India starting in Mohali on October 1 and their sights fixed firmly on reclaiming the Ashes on home soil.

"Most of the time that India and Australia play it would be over four Tests, but leading up to the Ashes it's a good thing because they need Tests, not heaps of one-dayers and Twenty20s, They want to try and win every series that they play, because that's what sportsmen do, but if they lose they lose, and they'll start their focus back in on the Ashes," he commented.

Warne didn’t think that the Australians would be all that concerned over the ICC rankings as they would be falling behind England for the first time since 2003 if they lose the two-Test series against India.

"I don't think it'll have any bearing on the outcome of the series, or the way they prepare for the series. It's just a number. If you're winning Test matches you're at the top, if you're not winning Test matches, you'll slide down. Australia will be disappointed if they lose the series and drop down the rankings, but hopefully they'll win there, and hopefully they'll win the Ashes too,” he asserted.

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September 29, 2010

Gavaskar becomes latest IPL casualty


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The iconic figure of Sunil Gavaskar has been dropped from the Governing Council of the Indian Premier League (IPL) but the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has retained the other two former captains, Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi and Ravi Shastri.

In a major overhaul of the IPL, the BCCI in its 81st annual general meeting on September 29, decided to oust Gavaskar from the Twenty20 league's Governing Council, which was reduced to a seven-member panel with a tenure of just one year, while effectively shutting the door on its former Chairman Lalit Modi without expelling him.

"The IPL Governing Council constitution was changed on September 29 at the AGM. The period of the Governing Council, which is a sub-committee, of the Board has been reduced to one year from five years," BCCI President, Shashank Manohar, announced during the briefing soon after the AGM.

"It will have five members and two cricketers will be part of the committee. Earlier, cricketers were used to be paid Rs one crore but BCCI decided no payment will be made from now onwards," he said.

The BCCI in its also decided to withdraw suits filed against former president Jagmohan Dalmiya in Bombay High Court and also revoked the expulsion imposed on him in 2006.

In the meeting, secretary N Srinivasan was elected as the president-elect and will take over from Shashank Manohar next year. Niranjan Shah, an IPL Vice President, was made the Vice President from the west zone and he replaced Chirayu Amin, who has completed his tenure. Amin is now also the chairman of the IPL.

Rajiv Shukla became the Vice President from Central Zone in place of Modi. The other Vice Presidents were Arindam Ganguly (East Zone), Arun Jaitley (North Zone) and Shivlal Yadav (South Zone). Sanjay Jagdale and M P Pandove would continue as the Joint Secretary and Treasurer respectively.

Gavaskar, it may be recalled, had remarked that he and other fellow cricketers had complete faith in financial experts in the committee.

Gavaskar, in a newspaper article, had expressed regret over the fact that he did not have much knowledge of financial and legal issues, so was unable to understand what was discussed in IPL meeting.

"Pity, we cricketers don't have so much knowledge, for then we would have been able to understand a lot of the financial and legal issues that came up in council meetings. We cricketers looked at all the others who were knowledgeable about finance and trusted their expertise," Gavaskar wrote.

"When it came to cricketing matters, they looked at us and when we talked cricket they nodded their heads too," he added.

The third edition of the IPL was embroiled in controversies, including allegations that former Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor was trying to influence franchisees. Tharoor resigned from his post as a Minister following a controversy between Modi and him over ownership details of the Kochi IPL franchise.

Tharoor had also requested Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, to conduct a thorough investigation of the charges, while denying any wrongdoing.

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Aisam-ul-Haq comes of age


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi has certainly become a household name in Pakistan with his recent exploits at the US Open in New York. He made it to the final of the mixed doubles as well as the men’s doubles that brought rare smiles on the faces of the sports enthusiasts in the country who have had to endure bitter pills from the high-profile cricketers.

Aisam’s qualification in both the events provided the people of Pakistan an opportunity to cheer about amid catastrophic flooding in which hundreds of lives were lost and millions were displaced.

Big screens were set up across the country for spectators to watch his matches while he also received a call from Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani ahead of the finals.

The 30-year-old Aisam rose to the status of a hero despite having gone down fighting in both the finals of the grand slam event. Tennis has hardly ever been the game of the masses in Pakistan but there was tremendous excitement in this part of the world when he crossed one hurdle after another in the prestigious US Open.

Now Aisam is not only acclaimed as a tennis star but he is very much a high-profile celebrity and the leading brands are queuing up to procure his endorsement to promote their products. What a turnaround for the immensely talented fellow who has worked his way to the top without any significant support or assistance from the sports bodies of the country.

His teaming up with India’s Rohan Bopanna also create waves as they try to use their tennis partnership to promote more peaceful relations between Pakistan and India. The pair wear sweatshirts emblazoned with the slogan “Stop War, Start Tennis” and there has been talk of a match being played across the India-Pakistan border.

“I’ve always said there’s no reason the Indians and Pakistanis can’t get along with each other. We always said sports can reach places where no religion or politics or politician can reach. If you can change a few people’s minds on the Indian or Pakistani side, I think it’s a great thing,” Aisam believed.

“It’s been hard times for Pakistan especially in the last two months so to be able to help send some positive news back each day has been fantastic,” he said.

“I have spent the last 14 years trying to put tennis in the spotlight in my country where cricket is like a religion there. This moment is like a highlight in my career. When I was growing up, I thought maybe someday I could win a Grand Slam or make it to one Grand Slam final. But two Grand Slam finals in a week? It’s unbelievable,” Aisam observed.

“People recognized me a bit before now. When I beat Roger Federer, that was huge news for people back home, even people who didn’t know that much about tennis,” he recalled.

Well Aisam is now not only recognized in Pakistan but admired as well in the truest sense of the word. He seems to be having the talent and the will power to bring more glories for the country.

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Return of top class cricket


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Rankings aside, the contests between Australia and India have generally been close and fascinating during the last one decade or so. The Test matches between these two nations have been particularly absorbing.

They resume their rivalry with a two-Test series starting in Mohali on October 1. Isn’t it a pity that the Test series would be limited to just a couple of matches. It would have been much better for the cause of the game if the contest was spread over four or five encounters.

But it should also not be forgotten that these two Test matches didn’t feature in the original plan and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) reacted only when India were installed as the top ranked Test team.

I don’t know why the functionaries of the BCCI and their counterparts in the Cricket Australia (CA) realize that the Test matches between India and Australia generate as much interest as any limited overs series.

With the intent on making quick bucks neither the BCCI nor the CA seems concerned over the future of Test cricket. It’s only out of necessity that the two Boards agreed to revise the itinerary and include a couple of Tests at the expense of four One-day Internationals during Australia‘s present tour to India.

I think there would have been greater buzz and excitement in India and rest of the cricketing world if the Australians had come for a longer Test series. Imposing events like the Indian Premier League and the Champions League may be helpful in fetching more money for the BCCI but in the long run it could prove disastrous for the cause of the game.

On the positive side it’s heartening to note that Australia and India are getting engaged in bilateral contests much more frequently than in the past. I remember that it was not until 1999-2000 when India had undertaken a tour of Australia after 1991-92.

Like the one eight seasons ago, India had a forgettable tour of Australia in 1999-2000 when their depleted side, under the command of Sachin Tendulkar, had fared miserably and their problems were compounded by some of the most outrageous umpiring decisions seen in the recent times.

It has become a completely different story altogether since 2000-01 and every series has created waves. It had all begun with the follow-on fight back in Kolkata where VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid led the turnaround with Harbhajan Singh doing the rest. India won the three-Test series 2-1 after having lost the opening game.

India couldn’t win the Test series on their last two tours of Australia but they came very close to doing it on both occasions. Sourav Ganguly’s men came up trumps in the 2003-04 series that was drawn 1-1 while Anil Kumble’s warriors went down fighting 1-2.

The Australians have also played top-class cricket in India during this period with Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting having led from the front.

It’s Ponting again with a younger and less experienced squad. On the other hand Mahendra Singh Dhoni is high in confidence with the recovery of his two champion bowlers, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh.

India enter the two-Test series as the favorites but they could be tested by the Australian youngsters who have a lot to prove at the international level. It would be interesting to see how the Australian speedsters, who bowled horribly in England a few months ago, adjust to the slow and low bounce of Indian pitches.

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September 28, 2010

Dhoni leads Chennai Super Kings to another triumph


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Wasn’t it in the fitness of things that Mahendra Singh Dhoni, arguably the best present-day captain in world cricket, to lift another crown! He has proved himself an outstanding leader and he showed it once more why he has a league of his own.

Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings, the reigning Indian Premier League champions, completed a double by pocketing the Champions League Twenty20 title at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on September 27. The skipper himself had the satisfaction of hitting the winning boundary.

It was yet another clinical performance by Chennai who outclassed the South African Twenty20 champions, Eastern Cape Warriors, by eight wickets in the final to collect the $2.5 million prize. The Warriors had to be content with a purse of $1.3 million.

The resounding victory in the final confirmed Chennai’s status as the best club team in the world in cricket’s shortest format. After having restricted the local favorites to 128 for seven, they romped home with as many as eight wickets standing.

The wily off-spin of a man called Muttiah Muralitharan (3-16) and the teasing stuff from Man-of-the-Series Ravichandran Ashwin (2-16) broke the back of the Warriors batting. Then the Chennai openers Murali Vijay and Mike Hussey made half-centuries to seal the fate of the game.

“Winning the IPL and now the Champions League, it’s a very emotional moment for us The senior players have really done a good job. The environment has been superb and it can’t get any better than this,” Dhoni observed in his post-match comments.

The captain was full of praise for Ashwin. “He is used to bowling in the Powerplays. He is an aggressive bowler, he has the variety and he is always ready to bowl whenever you throw the ball to him. He wants to perform; he has grown as a player over the last three IPLs,” Dhoni said.

"There is a dressing room to show your emotions. As a captain, you are as good as your side. This is a very good bunch of people and as a captain you just want to channel all the energy into the same direction. The players put in great effort and frankly it feels very good to be the captain of Chennai Super Kings," he added.

"It’s indeed a very emotional moment. It’s the last game for many of us players as a team. However much you try, we can't retain all. These three years were great; we played good cricket. You develop a special bonding with each other. The dressing room atmosphere was great; not everybody could get a game but there was no ill feeling. Every one enjoyed each other's company. To end on a high feels really special," the triumphant skipper remarked.

Dhoni’s inspirational captaincy played a major role in the success of Chennai and his bowling changes and field placements remained spot-on although some of his moves were debated by the commentators.

"Dhoni that way takes lot of pressure off himself and he is someone who makes his players feel very secure. He is not a guy that you see outwardly making brilliant moves but he is quietly he is always encouraging his bowlers. When a bowler is hit for a six and if he has bowled a good ball, you will quietly see Dhoni applauding the bowler. That's all the bowler needs; that his captain has approved that ball," Sanjay Manjrekar, a former Indian batsman, complimented.

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Trott's career could be cut short


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Jonathan Trott was off to a fabulous start to his international career when he chalked u a century on his Test debut against Australia at The Oval last summer. He has done himself no harm by scoring consistently this season as well.

Having accumulated 1155 runs at an average of 55 in 13 Tests, he stands every chance of becoming a permanent member of the England batting line-up for quite sometime even though he is not very far away from his 30th birthday. He has the elusive technique of grafting an innings, possessing the skills to come good in tough situation by making adjustments of his own.

Yet his career could be cut short if he continues to be involved in ugly off the field incidents witnessed during the recently concluded series against Pakistan.

Reportedly he faces an England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) investigation for allegedly hurling harsh words at a spectator during the third Test against Pakistan at The Oval. The ugly spat with a male spectator had taken place when Trott was fielding on the boundary on day four of the Test.

According to a source, Trott had reacted angrily and sharply after being mocked for his slow scoring rate the previous day.

“A well-to-do bloke in the crowd shouted out sarcastically, ‘Trott, well batted yesterday. Kept me entertained all day’!” News of The World quoted Trott, as saying. Two balls later, Trott, who hit 36 from 130 balls in a losing cause, stared at the fan before fuming at him.

Trott was already in the news for the wrong reasons after it was reported that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) was considering legal action against him for allegedly calling left-arm fast bowler Wahab Riaz “a match-fixer”.

Trott and Wahab were involved in an angry bust-up ahead of the fourth One-day International at Lord's with Trott having allegedly asked Wahab 'how much are you going to make from the bookies today?' Riaz was then reported to have returned the compliment by making a comment about a member of Trott's family before the pair threw batting pads at each other.

The altercation ended with Trott grabbing Riaz by the throat and the prospect of an all-out fight was only averted by England batting coach Graham Gooch, who pushed Trott away before putting an arm around the Pakistani fast bowler.

Shahid Afridi, Pakistan's one-day captain, later said that his team had considered filing a police complaint against Trott after his altercation with Wahab in the nets before fourth ODI.

“When Wahab was returning after warming up Trott called him a 'match-fixer' and that he was up to harming Test cricket and hit his face with the pad. t could have been a police case because it is a crime to hit someone. But we showed a big heart and did not press for it,” the Pakistan captain was quoted as saying.

He also confirmed that Pakistan had considered a making a protest in the wake of the confrontation. "There was talk of not going in for the toss because of the incident. But better sense prevailed because we wanted to play the match and we want this series to end properly,” he added.

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Indian government blamed for Delhi chaos


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) has blamed the Indian government for the chaos as complaints have kept pouring in from a number of teams about the poor state of the athletes' village for the 19th Commonwealth Games 2010 to be staged in New Delhi from October 3 to 14.

The preparations have also been hit by failures in the construction of venues. A bridge at the Jawaharlal Nehru complex, the centrepiece of the Commonwealth Games, collapsed leaving over 20 people injured. Then part of the ceiling at the weightlifting arena fell in the following day.

The Chief Executive of the CGF, Mike Hooper, has said that his organization should not shoulder the blame for the problems which have plagued the build-up to the event in Delhi.

He claimed that the repeated requests from the CGF's co-ordination commission earlier in the year to speed up construction fell on deaf ears.

"When we viewed (the Games village) in March it was clear it was a massive work in progress and a lot of work had to be done," he told Five Live's Sportsweek programme.

"Everybody including the chefs de mission who came from all the teams were aware of the construction status. We kept getting shown the various model units that had been done and assured. Yes, we realize we are on a tight schedule but we will all get it done and delivered to the same standard,” he stated.

"Again when the co-ordination commission visited in May, two months after the chefs de mission had been, they were given the same reassurances. The co-ordination commission stated publicly in its press release that it put out that a key concern and key issue was the readiness in particular of the Games village.,” Hooper disclosed.

"All the warning signs were there. We were pushing very hard, we kept pushing. You can lead a horse to water you can't make it drink. These people just did not understand, or seem to accept the magnitude of the problem. There were consistently missed deadlines. The government agencies have let everybody down over here as regards meeting those deadlines. But that said we have to make it the best it can be and that's what we're all hoping to do now,” he added.

England’s chef de mission, Craig Hunter, made the following observation after landing there. "It's not perfect. But we are where we think the accommodation is acceptable for us. The village had the potential to be five star, there's no doubt about that. We're at about three star at the moment. It's by far from being perfect but it is at a level that we think is acceptable and appropriate for athletes to come to an event and to compete."

The village faced further criticism with Indian boxer Akhil Kumar's bed reportedly collapsing when he sat down on it.

"We reached the Olympic Bhavan late in the afternoon to collect our accreditation cards. But when I sat down on my bed to take rest, it collapsed," Kumar, who will compete in the 56kg category at the Games, was quoted as saying.

Two more Australian athletes have withdrawn from the Commonwealth Games because of security and health concerns. Cyclist Travis Meyer and table tennis player Stephanie Sang became the second and third Australians to pull out of the event, following world discus champion Dani Samuels.

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September 21, 2010

Anti-Corruption Unit of ICC needs to keep an eye on England players too


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has announced to have launched an investigation into activities that took place during the third One-Day International between England and Pakistan at The Oval, London, on September 17.

Following the information received by the ICC from a British newspaper and its source, the ICC did act as it believed that a full investigation was warranted.

“A source informed The Sun newspaper that a certain scoring pattern would emerge during certain stages of the match and, broadly speaking, that information appeared to be correct,” ICC Chief Executive, Haroon Lorgat, remarked in his statement.

“We therefore feel it is incumbent upon us to launch a full enquiry into this particular game although it is worth pointing out at this stage that we are not stating as fact that anything untoward has occurred. Only in the fullness of the investigation can that be established,” he stated.

“We thank The Sun newspaper for its information and cooperation in this regard and we will work with its staff and sources to ensure the full truth surrounding this match is ascertained,” the ICC chief acknowledged.

“The ICC maintains a zero-tolerance approach to corruption in cricket and, as a matter of course, follows up on all credible information that is received, whatever the source. Any player or official found guilty of an offence will face the full rigour of our robust Anti-Corruption Code so that we can ensure the integrity of the sport is maintained,” he added.

The statement issued by Haroon Logart very clearly suggested that the ICC was alive to the situation and the media reports concerning the sensitive issue were being followed closely.

But I wonder if the Anti-Corruption Unit of ICC is performing its duties to the satisfaction of large number of the cricket enthusiasts spread over the various continents of the world.

It has become increasingly important for the ACU to adopt a proactive approach in order to prevent further damage to what was one understood to be the gentleman’s game. They have to play a significant role in restoring the confidence of the people who have been felt cheated and heart-broken by the numerous off the field events during the past few months in particular.

The ACU of the ICC should be credited for their damage-control measures when the situation was even worse than what is today in the late 1990s and early 2000s with the stories of match-fixing doing the rounds every other day.

Pakistan’s cricketers are currently under the scanner for the obvious reasons but the ACU officials should not lose sight of the fact that the lust for quick bucks can lure players of the other countries too.

England’s cricketers are thorough-bred professionals but they are human beings too. It’s important for the ACU to keep an eye on their activities too because the rewards for under-performing are believed to be phenomenal to say the least.

Fingers are being pointed towards the England players for having fared terribly to lose the third and fourth One-day Internationals after having won the first two. Many people suspect wrongdoings as to how a depleted, demoralized and broken Pakistan team has been allowed to square the series in the unlikeliest of circumstances.

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Ijaz Butt fails miserably to handle pressure yet again


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

As I have written quite a few times earlier as well, the President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, under fire for his various controversial political appointments, has done the greatest disservice to the cause of the country by having ignored the follies of Ijaz Butt whom he had installed as the Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) a little under two years ago.

Chaudhary Ahmed Mukhtar, the Federal Minister of Defence and one of the most prominent leaders of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, had played the pivotal role in getting appointed his brother-in-law, Ijaz Butt, to this key post in October 2008.

Ijaz Butt has continued coming under stinging criticism from the various quarters for having considered himself above the law. Not only has he been guilty of putting aside merit in every matters but he has been ruthlessly playing around with the emotions of the people and more significantly getting away with it.

He is not afraid to say declare publicly that no force on earth could send him home except the appointing authority seemingly right behind him. It’s amazing how he has been allowed to operate in this manner and why he hasn’t been held accountable for having brought the country to disrepute to so many occasions.

With this kind of background it was not surprising at all to find him entangled with an anchor during a live interview with Geo News the other day.

Being straightforward is another matter but to take on the interviewer for no rhyme or reason is indeed an offence by someone holding a public office. There are many other ways of tackling provocative or probing questions but you are never expected to shout or behave indecently with millions watching you.

Ijaz Butt doesn’t take even a minute to lose his temper and talk nonsense even while giving interviews to the media. He remains under the illusion that his relationship with the Defence Minister has provided him the licence to kill and with his protection he was simply above board.

That must have been the reason at the back of his mind why he reacted so sharply when questioned if he was considering to quit following the recent events in England. Instead of giving a polite answer or even saying that he had no such plans he blasted the questioner saying she had no right to charge sheet him.

The worthy PCB Chairman went a step further by saying that he was going to charge sheet her. Thankfully Ijaz Butt wasn’t the head of the media organization the questioner was working for.

It was a clear enough indication how quickly the Pakistan cricket chief gets provoked and how shallow is his thinking. It reflected his poor communication skills as well. Any other person holding his position would have reacted differently and nobody would have thought of creating ugly scenes like this for the viewers.

Ijaz Butt, throughout his two-year term, has never had any kind of working relationship with media because of his attitude and temperament.

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September 20, 2010

Sindh Sports Boards brings smiles on faces of flood victims


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The Sindh Sports Board (SSB) has organized competitions of the various indigenous games at the relief camps in different parts of the province as a part of the drive undertaken by the government to raise the spirits of the people having had to relocate there following the devastation caused by the floods in their respective areas.

Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui, Secretary Sports & Youth Affairs to the Government of Sindh, who is also Secretary of the SSB, informed the media that the competitions of kodi kodi, wanjwatti, malakhro and tug of war were held at the SITE, Hawkesbay and Gadap camps of Karachi besides Khairpur, Sukkur and Jamshoro.

He disclosed that individual as well as team events were held among the camp residents and cash awards were also disbursed among the outstanding performers.

The celebrations of Eid-ul-Fitr were kept low-key throughout Pakistan in view of the devastation caused by the worst-ever floods in the country’s history, affecting some 20 million people and leaving ten million victims shelter-less across the country.

Eid was celebrated modestly as the fallout from devastating floods continued. It was a thoughtful decision of the Government of Sindh to have made an attempt to bring smiles on the faces of the flood victims on the occasion of Eid.

At this point of time any help act of kindness would have been welcome. It was nice of the sports department of the provincial government to have thought of the people having had to be confined in relief camps.

The personnel of the sports department of the Government of Sindh organized the various sports competitions, during the course of the Eid vacations, for those having been affected and displaced by the devastating floods. Separate events were held for the children as well. Sports after all remains the tool uniting the nation.

The recent floods have wreaked havoc in Pakistan. Many small towns and villages have been completely wiped off, dams have given way. The total loss cannot be computed but it would be more than the combined loss from four major world catastrophes-the tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, the Haiti earthquake and our own earthquake of 2005. Nothing like this has happened in the last 100 years.

"We cannot celebrate the day with traditional fanfare and festivities when millions of our countrymen have been rendered shelter-less as villages, towns and cities have been destroyed by the floods,” President Asif Ali Zardari had observed in his Eid message to the nation.

“This year’s Eid festival is being celebrated on such a moment of history, when a large part of country is under the devastation caused by floods. Millions of fellow countrymen are homeless and facing severe difficulties,” Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani noted in his Eid message.

“The country has come together with generosity to lessen the hardship faced by the flood victims. No doubt, brave nations face the challenges with courage and mettle,” the Prime Minister reckoned.

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September 9, 2010

Omar Cricket Club go down fighting in KG Ramazan final


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Omar Cricket Club went down fighting against Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC) in the final of the 25th KG Ramazan Festival Cricket Tournament 2010 at the Karachi Gymkhana Cricket Ground on September 7.

Set a challenging target of 202 in 20 overs, Omar CC, having stunned a few fancied rivals in the earlier games, was in the driving seat until the 13th over but they lost their seven wickets for 32 runs in 5.2 overs and KESC won the match by 36 runs.

The fourth wicket stand of 84 between Asif Raza (49 off 27 balls) and Farrukh Rizvi (41 off 23 balls) had put Omar CC on top as they needed just a further 69 in more than seven overs.

A couple of umpiring blunders derailed Omar CC who appeared in complete command of the situation until the dismissals of Asif and Farrukh in quick succession. Then the spin trio of Noman Alvi (3-28), Rizwan Khan (2-13) and Shahzeb Khan (2-16) completed the job for KEC

Earlier, put into bat, KESC got off to a flying start through openers Ahsan Ali (36 off 25 balls) and Rameez Raja (75 off 46 balls) as they put on 93 runs in quick time. The momentum was sustained by the middle order batsmen with Daniyal Ahsan (25 off 22 balls), Arif Mahmood (20 off 11 balls) and Sarfaraz Ahmed (25 off 14 balls) taking the total past 200.

The skipper of Omar CC, Nadeem Omar, was unable to hide his disappointment caused by the two umpiring decisions that denied his team from winning the tournament for the first time. Normally a very cheerful character he felt cheated by the umpires.

Many neutral observers present at the ground were also of the opinion that the two key umpiring decisions had changed the complexion of the game and both had gone against Omar CC, pointing in the direction of malpractices.

Sindh Sports Minister, Dr Syed Mohammad Ali Shah, was the chief guest in the prize distribution ceremony, presided over by Executive Director, Bahria Town (Pvt) Ltd, Zain Malik.

The Honorary Secretary Cricket, Karachi Gymkhana, Khurram Sadiq Monnoo, presented the tournament report while the welcome address was delivered by the Gymkhana’s President, Younis Rizwani.

Tournament Director, Mian Azmat Hussain, who is also Vice President of the Karachi City Cricket Association (KCCA) besides being the owner of the famed club, Mian Azmat Professionals, reflected on the 25-year-old history of the tournament.

All-rounder Arif Mahmood, who lifted the Bahria Town Trophy, for being the skipper of the victorious Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC), was also declared Man of the Tournament. He collected a cash award of Rs 15,000.

Khalid Latif of Malir Gymkhana was adjudged the best batsman of the tournament while Haris Ayaz (Tapal Cricket Club), Mohammad Waqar (KESC) and Ahmed Zeeshan (Tapal Cricket Club) were voted as the best bowler, the best fielder and the best wicketkeeper respectively. They were presented a purse of Rs 8,000 each.

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September 8, 2010

England's another helter-skelter win over demoralized Pakistan


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

What would you expect of the world champions, playing on their own turf, when taking on a demoralized and under-prepared outfit besieged by monumental problems? Obviously the hosts will make mince meat of the underdogs in such a scenario.

But this was not the case in either of the two Twenty20 Internationals between England and Pakistan at Cardiff. The home side emerged triumphant on both the occasions to pocket the mini-series 2-0 but they couldn’t display the kind of efficiency that was anticipated in the prevailing circumstances.

England fared marginally better in the second game, winning it by six wickets. They should have cruised to the target of 90 but they lost four wickets in the process to keep the contest alive.

The bowlers had done the job for England with the speedsters forcing the vulnerable Pakistan top order to submission with some hostile stuff and there was not much element of surprise in it.

Tim Bresnan, generating speed in the region of 90 mph, was rewarded for his magnificent attacking bowling performance and he richly deserved the figures of 3 for 10 off 3.4 overs. Stuart Broad proved equally lethal with the new ball and his short-pitched bowling brought him wickets.

Ryan Sidebottom, for the second game running, delivered an ordinary first over and was taken for runs in double digit. But his second spell was far more purposeful that cleaned the threatening tail.

The spin duo of Michael Yardy and Graeme Swann exploited the conditions by keeping it tight against the batsmen who were looking for singles in the middle overs. Umar Akmal, not for the first time, dared taking on Swann but the off-spinner had the last laugh.

Swann has been at the peak of his career of late and it’s not often to see him clobbered for sixes in the manner Umar did it two times. But the rampaging batsman was foxed by the slower one and it was all over for him.

Pakistan were losing wickets regularly and the overs were ticking by but England could not have taken anything for granted, having suffered against the same opponents in not too dissimilar situation in the past.

How would England forget the onslaught of Abdul Razzaq in Dubai earlier this year? For that matter they would not have taken Umar Gul lightly either after he got away with a few streaky shots.

Pakistan were bowled out for 89 inside 20 overs on a pitch that wasn’t horrible for batting. The bounce, more than the swing, undid the visitors and England were expected to coast to a comfortable win.

Openers Steven Davies and Craig Kieswetter got the hosts off to a confident start but both of them departed on successive deliveries against the run of play. Paul Collingwood and Ravi Bopara also failed and it was left to Eoin Morgan and Michael Yardy once again to do the job.

It looked like that the cricket enthusiasts in South Wales had assessed the situation beforehand and the amazingly thin attendance at the ground reflected the clear lack of interest to be a part of something not measuring to their standard. With a county-standard attendance of 5,821 in a Twenty20 International on a Sunday evening the people had given their verdict at the state of the affairs.

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September 7, 2010

Lawson judges Ijaz Butt to perfection


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Geoff Lawson, the former Australian fast bowler, may have had a brief stint as the Pakistan coach but he has judged Ijaz Butt, the current Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), to perfection.

Isn’t it a shame that so many of Pakistan’s former Test cricketers and commentators who appear on various television channels in role of experts whistle in the dark and very few of them are courageous enough to bring to light the real issue.

Either they lack in knowledge or they are not prepared to call a spade a spade due to the fear of annoying Ijaz Butt more often than not the patience of the viewers is tested. The real issue of the Pakistan cricket is the PCB Chairman and it’s amazing how Lawson has assessed him so well, much better than the Pakistanis.

In an interview Lawson has bitterly criticized Ijaz Butt for failing to provide the strong leadership that the country's cricket needs during one of their biggest challenges.

"Even through this crisis we have heard virtually nothing from their chairman. He hides from a crisis, he is not a leader and when Pakistan need a strong leader and people to show them the way forward, they are not getting it from their board," Lawson pointed out very correctly.

Lawson revealed that before the appointment of Ijaz Butt, Pakistan cricket had in place detailed long-term plans to develop the game from the grassroots up.

"There were 10 and 15 year plans, plans to build regional cricket academies, fitness, fitness trainers, physios and stocking gyms with better equipment and better pay for the first-class players," the former Australian fast bowler remarked.

"After the elections in 2008, it took some months with their hung parliament to appoint a new chairman and Ijaz Butt was appointed and really, I just see from that instant, there has been a decline in Pakistan cricket," he added.

Lawson was of the opinion that Salman Butt had done a great job with a young side since being appointed captain of Pakistan and he would be shocked if the left-handed opener turned out to be at the center of the spot-fixing scandal.

"If it is the case that these young players are being affected, then there is something very bad with the environment in which Pakistan cricket is being played in," he said.

Lawson considered the current crisis is the greatest Pakistan cricket has faced, and unlike previous crises, the team will not have the opportunity to mend fences by playing matches at home once things calm down.

"The hearings on Asif, Amir and Salman will be extremely important. I hope against hope that things will turn out alright but this is very much a watershed for Pakistan cricket right now," the former coach reckoned.

Lawson, it may be recalled, was one of the initial casualties when Ijaz Butt had succeeded Dr Nasim Ashraf as the Chairman of the PCB in 2008.

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September 6, 2010

England make heavy weather of modest task


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Pakistan’s cricket team, demoralized and weakened, due to the ongoing spot fixing scandal, came up with more than satisfactory performance in the first Twenty20 Internationals at Cardiff on September 5.

England, the reigning world champions in the shortest version of the game, made a heavy weather of the modest target of 127 and it was the unbroken sixth wicket partnership of 67 in 7.1 overs between Eoin Morgan and Michael Yardy that took them through after some anxious moments.

England had themselves to blame for having let their opponents come close to them. While the bowling was generally steady their catching left a lot to be desired. It was quite unusual for their fielders to have grassed as many as three catches in a T20 game

With the majority of the Pakistan players not well versed with the unpredictable weather conditions of England there was certainly an opportunity for the home team to dictate terms.

Pakistan’s tactics, after being put into bat by Paul Collingwood, were unsurprisingly as strange as ever with everyone bent upon playing his individual game rather than doing it for the team.

Kamran Akmal and Shahzeb Hasan, who opened the innings, went after the bowling from the very first ball as if they were to face dire consequences for treating the good balls with some degree of respect.

I don’t know what the Pakistan openers thought of themselves but it was really something out of the extraordinary to hammer the bowlers from the outset without getting their eyes set in the middle.

The agricultural shots commenced in the opening over bowled by left-arm quickie Ryan Sidebottom, one of the stars in England's World Twenty20 conquest in the Caribbean earlier this year. Kamran was not lucky enough to play around with Tim Bresnan whose extra pace did the trick.

The veteran Mohammad Yousuf, who was not in the scheme of things for T20 cricket for quite sometime, was probably drafted in the team more because of his vast international experience rather than his ability to play the ball late to bisect the fielders.

Yousuf chanced his arms once too often and many of his mistimed lofted shots just eluded the fielders. He was unable to get on top of the wily off-spinner, Graeme Swann, who bowled yet another magnificent spell. Shahzeb also was bamboozled by the same bowler. With the pitch offering extravagant turn, left-arm spinner Yardy also proved to be a hard nut to track.

With four wickets having gone down for 88 in 15.1 overs the pair of Umar Akmal and Shahid Afridi refrained from throwing caution to the wind in the final stages and they were happy to collect 38 runs off the last 29 balls of the innings. The hard-hitting Abdul Razzaq was not even required to bat.

England were not expected to be tested while chasing a target of 127 but the game had become wide open when lost fifth wicket at 77. The pace of Shoaib Akhtar and the spin of Shahid Afridi caught the hosts napping and it was left for Morgan and Yardy to repair the damage and they did the job to perfection.

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September 5, 2010

Now it’s Yasir Hameed in news for wrong reasons


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The anarchy prevailing in the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for almost two years now resulted in another controversy and this time it was top-order batsman Yasir Hameed in the news for the wrong reasons.

The News of the World newspaper's Sunday edition has quoted Yasir having alleged that the Pakistan players are throwing matches.

"They were doing it in almost every match. God knows what they were up to. Scotland Yard was after them for ages. It makes me angry because I'm playing my best and they are trying to lose," Yasir has been shown saying in the interview.

The News of the World also quoted Yasir as saying he been offered up to 150,000 pounds ($232,000) to throw a match.

Yasir, in his conversations with a couple of private television channels in Pakistan, has denied the claims, which the News of the World says he made to an undercover reporter.

"I have not given any interview. All the claims of newspapers are false. I can't think of giving any statement like this one. Whatever the newspaper has written, it's their own,” Yasir said in a choked voice.

The uncertain manner in which the denial has come has certainly raised suspicions. He didn’t help his cause by hanging the phone when asked for the clarification by the Geo Television Network.

Yasir had played in the last week's fourth and final Test against England, in which Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir are alleged to have deliberately bowled no-balls in conspiracy with bookmakers.

Yasir’s case is the latest blow to the Pakistan cricket while the Chairman of the PCB, Ijaz Butt, remains aloof in this probably the most critical phase in the cricketing history of the nation.

The PCB Chairman has been deaf and dumb for the past few days and there has hardly been any effort to control the damage. His cronies have not been able to handle the situation and the task of dealing with the crisis has apparently been passed on to the Pakistan High Commissioner, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, who obviously doesn’t seem to be having the complete information with him.

The Pandora’s Box has been opened and the Pakistani cricketers are at the centre of what has been described as the biggest controversy to have rocked the world cricket for a number of years.

The observations of Yasir have only added fuel to the fire. By the look of things he didn’t know that he was sharing the information with a journalist but he should have still not talked the subject with someone he didn’t know well enough.

In any case he should have avoided a discussion on this issue with anyone at this stage when each and every move of the Pakistani cricketer is being monitored.

The News of the World has been on the lookout for gathering maximum possible information into the story they have broken and they are also looking at the soft targets.

Being a fringe player, who only recently staged a comeback in the national team, Yasir obviously was more likely to speak his mind and he ‘obliged’ them with the kind of ‘material’ they were looking for.

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September 3, 2010

Kapil Dev desires Imran Khan to run Pakistan cricket


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The spot fixing scandal having marred Pakistan’s ongoing tour of England has brought to light a few tales of the unexpected and on top of them is Kapil Dev’s statement in which he has heaped lavish praise on Imran Khan, one of his illustrious contemporaries, now heading a political party.

Alongwith Richard Hadlee of New Zealand and Ian Botham of England, both of them knighted later, Imran Khan and Kapil Dev formed the quartet of the greatest all-rounders to have ruled the world in the 1980s. All of them brought unmatched glories for their respective countries.

Kapil had led India to victory in the 1983 World Cup against the heaviest of odds while Pakistan were crowned as the world champions nine years later, under Imran, in not too dissimilar circumstances

Kapil has now called upon Imran to help Pakistan restructure itself around morals, ethics and values in light of the match fixing that has come to light.

“I appeal to Imran Khan to take charge of the current situation in Pakistan. Being the cleanest player, it’s he who can save and look after Pakistan cricket. None of us want the game in Pakistan to be finished, as this is one country that has produced some of the finest cricketers,” he stated.

Kapil appears convinced that Imran remains the ideal man to run Pakistan cricket after so many scandals have damaged it over the years.
He described Imran as the “cleanest and the strongest” person in the country to fix the downward trend of cricket in Pakistan.

“In this time of crisis, I can only think of Imran as the cleanest cricketer to look after Pakistan cricket. He can really put the nation out of this controversy and other ones because he also has a strong personality and a sharp mind,” Kapil reckoned.

Kapil has spoken quite highly of Imran. I can’t recollect of Imran having ever expressed similar sentiments for any of his contemporaries.

The former Indian all-rounder, who also held the world record for the highest number of wickets for sometime, had sympathy for the Pakistan cricketers but also reiterated that those found guilty of it should be taken to task.

“I do feel sorry for Pakistani cricketers and Pakistan cricket. But at the same time, the alleged ones should be severely punished if proved guilty,” the former Indian captain was quoted as saying.

He also implored the International Cricket Council (ICC) to uphold the image of the game and get rid of people who have interests other than cricket.

“I’m not qualified to say ICC should ban players. But I appeal to the governing body to look after the game and make sure right people investigate the current issue. It should ensure that betting scandals carried out by a handful of negative people do not taint the wonderful game,” Kapil observed.

“Don’t bet on cricket,” was Kapil’s warning to the budding youth wanting to play cricket professionally.

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September 2, 2010

PBSA assured of special government grant for Asian Games


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The Federal Ministry of Sports and the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) have been directed to provide special financial assistance to the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA) for participation in the various international events during the year.

Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, President, PBSA, has claimed that the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Sports, headed by Iqbal Mohammad Ali, has instructed the Ministry of Sports to arrange for the necessary funds besides facilitating a foreign coach and building academies in Karachi and Lahore.

“I had a detailed session with the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Sports in Islamabad the other day in which detailed briefing was given to them about the accomplishments and future plans of the PBSA. They recognised that snooker has brought glories to the country and there are bright prospects of our cueists bringing home more medals in the Asian Games. They advised the Ministry of Sports to meet our requirements on an urgent basis,” the PBSA President revealed.

“The Chairman of the Standing Committee was particularly appreciative of the efforts of the PBSA for generating Rs 4 million from sponsorship to offset the costs of national ranking tournaments. He agreed that that the grant of Rs 4 million the PBSA was seeking to from the government to ensure the participation of the cueists in the international events was fully justified,” Alamgir Shaikh disclosed.

The PBSA President described the meeting as extremely fruitful and he was upbeat about getting the desired support from the government in not too distant future.

“We had been given an understanding that the Federal Ministry will facilitate in hiring a foreign coach for the Asian Games for the Pakistan snooker team to participate in the singles and team events. We were awaiting the release of funds so that we could implement the plans,” Alamgir Shaikh said.

“Our cueists have a very busy international schedule and we desperately need the financial assistance from the government. Besides taking part in the 16th Asian Games 2010 at Guangzhou, China, in November we are also committed to participate in the IBSF World Championship 2010 to be staged in Syria in December,” the PBSA President pointed out.

“Then in the very next month our cueists are due to contest in the Asian 6-Red Snooker Championship 2011 to be held in China in January to be followed by the IBSF 6-Red World Snooker Championship 2011 in India in April and the 27th Asian Snooker Championship 2011 also in India in May next,” Alamgir Shaikh continued.

“With so much activity to take place in the next few months we are looking forward to the governmental support besides seeking the help of the corporate sector and the philanthropists,” he said.

Meanwhile the PBSA, confident of overcoming the financial constraints, has decided to hold the 6-Red National Championship prior to the third edition of the Ranking Cup later this year. They will be organizing the 6-Red Championship in the last week of September and it will be followed by the 3rd Ranking Cup in October.

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September 1, 2010

Not much element of surprise in yet another scandal


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

I was invited in a talk show aired live by Business Plus on August 30 in which the topic of discussion was the latest controversy having engulfed the Pakistan cricket.

Understandably nearly every television channel in the country has continued non-stop coverage of the massive scandal ever since it had broken out during the course of the fourth and final Test between England and Pakistan at Lord’s.

Anchorperson Shahzeb Khanzada had done quite a bit of research from the various sources and he was ready with probing questions as the show started immediately after the news bulletin at 8.10 pm.

Prior to the 8 pm news bulletin, the viewers of Business Plus had watched a fiery talk show featuring former Test cricketers, Sikander Bakht and Shoaib Mohammad, and sports journalist, Ehsan Qureshi.

The viewers as well as the anchorperson were stunned when I made it clear that I was not surprised when enquired about my immediate reaction at learning about the implication of a few of Pakistan’s cricketers in the latest case.

My cell phone had started buzzing once too often since the day the story was carried by the British media and my reply to everyone was that they should wait until the matter is probed before jumping into any conclusions.

The reason why I am not surprised because the Pakistan cricket has been in a state of anarchy for the last couple of years and there has been complete lawlessness ever since Ijaz Butt has been nominated as the Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

It’s the single greatest blunder by the President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, who is also the Patron of the PCB. The appointment of Ijaz Butt as the PCB chief was not viewed with suspicion because the cricket circles had expected him to mobilize the available resources for the betterment of the game.

Unfortunately Ijaz Butt has proved to be a complete failure and he has been instrumental in causing irreparable damage to the national interest. In this context the office of the President has not taken the measures to remove him despite repeated requests by the various quarters including the parliamentarians.

The situation has come to stage when you are never sure what’s coming next. With the cronies of Ijaz Butt accompanying the national team on the various tours under the cover of ‘officials’ any thing can be expected when the boys are under nobody’s administrative control.

With the aspect of discipline missing from the Pakistan camp you can always be prepared for one controversy or the other. When there is no rule of law you are always more likely to have chaos than not.

The likes of Yawar Saeed and Shafqat Rana are being obliged by Ijaz Butt on a consistent basis and the decision to involve Waqar Younis and Ijaz Ahmed in the management of the team, overlooking the recommendations of a Chief Justice, was too big an adventure.

Whatever the fate of the Pakistan cricketers in the latest case of spot fixing, one thing is crystal clear than these youngsters do run the risk of getting engaged in wrongdoings in the absence of proper guidance and lack of discipline at every level.

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